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Working for a Safer London...
Member Name: spacelamb
Date: 23/03/01, updated on 23/03/01 (86 review reads)
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...so says the gleaming, ever-circling thingy outside New Scotland Yard.
Now for the most part I agree. Policing the capital must be about as enjoyable as tonsilitis at the best of times. BUT I would just like to regurgitate a few facts from an article in yesterday's Evening Standard, which inspired me to write this op.
* The Met is currently paying former officers £335 million a year in compensation for job-related 'stress' and injury (this figure is roughly one third of its total annual pay bill).
* Earlier this month, a policewoman who helped to trap the suspect in a murder case was awarded £200,000 for the 'stress' this apparently caused her. The victim's son, who witnessed the murder, was awarded only £20,000.
* A policewoman who attended the scene of the Hillsborough disaster won £330,000 for the ‘stress’ of having to attend the event and has now taken early retirement WITH ENHANCED PENSION.
* Another policeman is seeking £400,000 compensation for the 'stress' of having to go back on the beat (on a motorbike, not foot patrol) after nine years of desk work.
Honestly, what did these people think the police were there for? Did they not look at the job description before applying for the position? Of course there are risks - and responsibilities - in working for the Met. If you are of a sensitive disposition there are a million alternative, less-threatening jobs out there. Most librarians (for example) aren’t terrifically ‘stressed’ people (to the best of my knowledge; I have no actual data to support this). Late books are annoying I’m sure, but never dangerous. And I mean no disrespect to librarians either, I’m just saying that there’s a plethora of ‘customer contact’ jobs in which your average working day isn’t going to be one long adrenaline rush. Why not do one of those instead?
My overriding feeling
in this whole compensation issue is that shit happens. The world isn’t a bed of roses, you can’t always get what you want (as Mick Jagger would have us know) and you have no control over what other people do. I know there are exceptions, but basically we’re just whingeing now, and out for what we can get. The Met seem to have a phenomenal talent for this.
There are exceptions, of course. If you get food poisoning from undercooked meat in a restaurant, you probably deserve some sort of compensation. Ditto if you are rejected for a job because you’re the wrong colour or gender. But police officers have no right to claim huge amounts of taxpayers’ money for ‘stressful’ events RELATED TO THEIR WORK. They have decided that they want to serve their local community; they have undertaken eighteen weeks of intensive training during which they have plenty of time to consider whether they can handle the job. In the case of the policeman who is suing for being put back on the beat, he described an incident where he happed upon the scene of a road accident and was too scared to go and help. I mean, WHAT? (Luckily, passers-by were less timid).
I’m not trying to undermine the work of the police. I’m not saying that it isn’t demanding. It’s a job I would never even consider doing, because I know I’m a coward. I couldn’t break up a fight. I couldn’t handle being verbally abused about fifty percent of the time. I couldn’t handle breaking the news of someone’s death. There are good people in the world who can, thank God, and they make fine police officers. But I know I’m not one of them. I’ve considered enlisting though (they are currently in the midst of a massive recruitment drive), and claiming about ten years’ salary for the ‘stress’ of the first bit of unpleasantry that I have to deal with.